Thoughts on Eastern Europe
An incredible trip on multiple levels. Until thirty years this area of the world lived under the heavy hand of the Soviet Union. Each city is still figuring out its bearings. There is different feeling of awakening in each place.
Few things. Martinis can only be had in Prague. Not sure why. James Bond would be bummed. Each hotel hands you a map and information of the of the city when you check in. I always find that comical when we have Google maps. The air flow in buildings is almost non-existent. The summers must be brutal. Just like it was 106 in Paris this summer, these cities are not prepared for that. Even in the magnificent National Gallery in Prague, they have to have artists sign statements understanding that there is no temperature control in the buildings so their work might be damaged. Who is going to pay for a good HVAC system is the question. when much is still state run.
Coffee is abundant. Art galleries don’t seem to be open even when their hours reflect that they are supposed to be open. There is definitely a bourgeoning art scene happening in Prague and Warsaw similar to Berlin 15 years ago. We are definitely coming back to see more and figure out that piece of Warsaw.
Krakow is beautiful, old and historically something to see. A historical movie set. Warsaw has more than meets the eye. Both of these cities have a thin layer of Russia hanging over it from the people to the architecture (certainly the architecture in Warsaw). Budapest is old with rambling streets and large castles. The baths can not be beat. New restaurants that are working on contemporary food just like Berlin was 15 years ago. They are all moving forward although the right wing party who is still frustrated with change hangs in the balance politically. Good to see Poland giving them very little say in their last election. New blood and hopefully the youth is essential to both countries in the political spectrum.
Prague felt the most lively. A city with a bounce in its step. Absolutely beautiful and people who want to make it as important as other European cities is inspiring. The place really hums like Paris or London.
We had one conversation about politics which isn’t surprising but certainly disturbing. He said, these countries look to the US as the guiding light. The beacon of freedom that inspires them with hope that their countries too can move past corruption or stagnant growth. Then along comes Trump who is the most corrupt of all who is in bed with thugs around the globe and it is disheartening that the US too is falling prey to unlawful politicians like their own countries. Remember that everyone in each of these countries speak English and they did not 30 years ago. It is a flat world and the Internet makes it flatter. They are not immune to what is going on here.
As an optimist I believe we will get past this but for our Allies across the globe who have moved into a new dimension after the fall of the Berlin Wall makes it disheartening and embarrassing to be an American in these countries right now. We felt obliged to apologize.